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Why aren't they buying? What your prospects are thinking when they hesitate

- Last modified: April 17, 2013 at 10:14 AM

Dennis looked skeptical and Sean was worried.

This was Sean's third conversation with his prospect, the CEO of a light manufacturing firm, and he thought it had been going well. They had a lot of rapport - it was almost like they had known each other for years.

Sean also felt that he asked smart enough questions to sufficiently understand Dennis' situation and place before him a solution that, to Sean, made sense.

Why wasn't Dennis buying? Why was Dennis so slow to commit? He seemed OK with the proposal but something was causing him to hesitate.

Sean didn't realize it but his pitch wasn't complete. He didn't quite completely answer some of the questions that run through the mind of every buyer.

Will your product do what you say it's going to do?

There has always been skepticism around products and salespeople - it's a product of the snake oil days. This is especially true in the age of the infomercial. We see so many panaceas being sold on television and wonder to ourselves: "Can that possible be true?" "Can it really cook that fast?" "Can it really vacuum my house without me?"

In order to over come this doubt, buyers need more than just the facts and benefits. They need proof. If attorneys need evidence to prove a case, salespeople need evidence to sell. Demonstrations, relevant statistics, (short) success stories - these aren't the frosting, they're the cake. They mitigate the perceived risks buyers are worrying about.

Without clear, specific, easy-to-understand evidence, our pitch becomes a litany of opinions and claims.

Am I justified in paying the price you're asking me to pay?

When price is greater than perceived value, then buyers will buy only when there's a pressing urgency. It's like $6-per-gallon milk at a convenience store. It's only reasonable when we don't have time to evaluate better options.

Salespeople are constantly battling the "price issue" because they fail to express fully and convincingly the distinctive differences of their offering. Consequently their products become commodities. If any competitor can also say it - there's no distinction. Value and price come into parity. This causes the buyer to hesitate because they wonder if they can get it for less somewhere else.

"Price" also includes the effort/hassle/pain of change: retraining the staff to use a different product, different delivery methods, payment terms. This can't be ignored when presenting the solution.

Who says so besides you?

Buyers KNOW that we, as salespeople, are tied economically to the outcome of the transaction. We get paid when we make the sale. This is an inherent conflict of interest. We're paid to say nice things about our company and our product.

To reduce doubt, employ third-party touts - testimonials letters, success stories. Suggesting that prospects talk to current customers will demonstrate that other people - people like your prospect - believe what you do. Prospects rarely take advantage of the offer - and it's too bad - but like the confidence of the salesperson in offering it.

This seems like one of those "Captain Obvious" recommendations, but common sense is rarely common practice.

Sean scheduled a follow-up meeting with Dennis. He made some adjustments. Dennis still had a couple of objections, but Sean easily handled them. Dennis signed and now is not only a believer - he says so.

Don't forget -- you can chat live with Patrick Morin at 9 a.m. this Friday. Click here to set an email reminder for yourself now.

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